Battle of Lewis’s Farm (March 29, 1865)

Updated: September 20, 2015

The Union victory at the Battle of Lewis's Farm, on March 29, 1865, closed a vital supply route for Confederate forces under siege at Petersburg, Virginia during the Appomattox Campaign.

On March 12, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant as General-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States. Upon his arrival in Washington, Grant drafted a plan to get the various Union armies in the field to act in concert and strike the Confederacy from several directions: Grant would travel with Major General George Meade's Army of the Potomac in pursuit of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the Richmond area; Major General William T. Sherman would march three Federal armies south from Chattanooga to capture Atlanta; and Major General Franz Sigel would invade Western Virginia's Shenandoah Valley to cut off supplies to Lee's army and to prevent any Confederate attempts to attack Meade's flank.

The Union Army of the Potomac relentlessly engaged the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia throughout the spring of 1864. By June, Grant forced Lee to retreat to the Richmond-Petersburg area. Thereafter, both armies entrenched and a stalemate ensued for the next ten months. During that period, Grant probed Lee's defenses, but to no avail. Despite being well entrenched, the Confederate situation grew progressively worse as their supplies dwindled. Union prospects, on the other hand, improved over the winter. Sheridan had completed his task of sweeping the Confederates from the Shenandoah Valley and his well-rested troops rejoined Grant in the spring. Determined to break the stalemate, Grant ordered Sheridan to try to turn Lee's right flank with the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps along with the 2nd and 5th Infantry Corps, and force Lee out of Petersburg.

Grant's spring offensive, the Appomattox Campaign, began in late March 1865 when Union troops commanded by Major General Philip Sheridan moved west with orders to threaten or capture Boydton Plank Road and the South Side Railroad, which connected to Petersburg from the southwest. Grant intended to cut off supplies coming into Petersburg and to prevent Lee from using the two arteries as avenues of escape from Petersburg. Sheridan moved the bulk of his army toward Dinwiddie Court House and ordered Major General G.K. Warren's 5th Corps to capture Boydton Plank Road. On March 29, lead elements of Warren's force, commanded by Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain, engaged several Confederate brigades, commanded by Major General Bushrod Johnson, at Lewis's Farm. After a brief, but sharp firefight, the Federals gained control of the road and forced the Rebels to retreat to their entrenchments along White Oak Road.

The Union suffered slightly higher losses at the Battle of Lewis's Farm than the Confederates. Union casualties totaled 380 (killed, wounded, and captured/missing), compared to 370 Confederate casualties. Nevertheless, the battle was a Union victory because the Federals closed an important supply route to Lee's beleaguered Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg.

No Ohio units participated in the Battle of Lewis’s Farm.

 

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"Battle of Lewis’s Farm," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 23 Apr 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1036>

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"Battle of Lewis’s Farm." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved April 23, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1036

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